Ukraine's Yushchenko: Cabinet And Parliamentary Majority Violate Constitution
KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's president on Thursday made his strongest criticism yet of the Cabinet led by his former rival, accusing ministers of violating the constitution and being illegitimate.
He called for urgent talks with Premier Viktor Yanukovych and other party leaders.
Viktor Yushchenko's attack came amid mounting pressure on him to dissolve parliament and call new elections. A big rally of many of the former Orange Revolution forces is planned for Kiev on Saturday to press the president to dissolve parliament.
With tension increasing, lawmakers from Yanukovych's coalition gathered in parliament to discuss the situation and Yanukovych called the president's comments "irresponsible and mistaken," according to Ukraine's Unian news agency.
Yushchenko has been locked in an escalating battle for power with his former Orange Revolution rival Yanukovych, whose party won the most votes in last year's parliamentary election and put together a ruling coalition.
Initially, Yushchenko sought to form a partnership with Yanukovych. But their relationship deteriorated into disagreements over policy and the division of power, with Yushchenko mostly on the losing side.
In recent weeks, the danger of Yushchenko being entirely sidelined increased as some lawmakers defected from Yushchenko's side to join the coalition. Yanukovych claims to have the support of 260 lawmakers in the 450-seat parliament, and his party has predicted it will reach the critical number of 300 — enough to override presidential vetoes — in the next few months.
"It is ... a barefaced revision of the will of Ukrainian voters, breaches in the Constitution of Ukraine and a direct path to lawlessness," Yushchenko said in his address timed to mark the anniversary of last year's parliamentary election.
He said Yanukovych's actions in attracting defecting lawmakers was anti-constitutional and that therefore the government's activity was illegitimate.
"The process (in forming the parliamentary majority) is profoundly unconstitutional and undemocratic," Yushchenko told a news conference in the eastern city of Luhansk later Thursday. "It borders on the usurpation of power and a change of the constitutional order in Ukraine."
Yushchenko said that under the constitution, a coalition must be formed within one month of parliament's opening session and it can only be made up of parliamentary factions — not by individual or small groups of lawmakers.
He also complained about parliament's adoption of a law regulating the powers of the Cabinet, which curtailed some presidential powers. Yushchenko has challenged that law in Ukraine's Constitutional Court.
"In the past year, Ukraine has faced many cynical examples of political intrigue and betrayal, but the tendency to usurp power has become the most dangerous," Yushchenko said.
Yushchenko's representative in parliament, Roman Zvarych, said the president would hold consultations with Yanukovych and parliamentary faction leaders on Monday. But Yushchenko suggested that such talks could begin immediately Friday.
Source: International Herald Tribune